Mang Bernadine Ines, a garlic farmer from Ilocos Sur and president of the Sinait Garlic Center of the North Producers Association, used to have difficult time making ends meet. Earning only P100 to P150 daily, it had been difficult providing for his family’s needs, much less save for the future.
Since banks have a strict screening process and numerous requirements to avail of a loan, Mang Bernie was forced to turn to 5/6 loan sharks who charge high interest rates.
Things changed for him when Senator Alan Peter Cayetano invited the association to partner with his PTK (Presyo, Trabaho, Kita/Kaayusan) program. The initial grant of P100,000 extended to the association last April 2014, was used to provide loans to members with only a five percent interest.
“Ang na-loan po ng mga miyembro namin ay ginamit sa pag buy-and-sell ng bawang at puhunan na din sa pagtatanim. Sa ngayon, mayroon nang P126,000 na naipon ang grupo,” Ines said.
With the loan facility, he happily reported to Sen. Cayetano that his members no longer deal with loan sharks.“Hindi na kami umuutang sa mga matataas ang interes. Malaking kaginhawaan sa aming mga magsasaka ang binigay ni Kuya Alan at alam naming hindi siya magsasawang tumulong dahil sa kagustuhan niyang umunlad ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.
The association’s experience, Sen. Cayetano said, is what inspires him to continue helping farmers, fishers and transport groups.
“Farmers and small entrepreneurs like the Sinait association members can do great things to help their communities if we give them enough support. I hope that the federation continues to use the funds they now have to create real change in Ilocos Sur, the kind of change that makes lives better,” Cayetano said.
“This is the thrust of the PTK program – to help bring about real change in the lives of our farmers, fishers, transport groups and market vendors,” the senator pointed out. #